November 22, 2014

Colorado Court of Appeals: Defendant Who Committed Non-Homicide Crimes as a Juvenile Sentenced Correctly Because Opportunity Exists for Parole

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Lucero Jr. on Thursday, April 11, 2013.

Crim.P. 35(b)—Sentencing—Juvenile—Life Without Parole.

Defendant appealed the trial court’s order denying his Crim.P. 35(b) post-conviction motion seeking reduction of his aggregate eighty-four-year sentence for non-homicide crimes he committed as a juvenile. The order was affirmed.

In 2008, defendant was convicted of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, and two counts of second-degree assault. The sentences for all were aggravated as crimes of violence. Defendant was 15 at the time of the incident giving rise to his convictions, but he was charged and tried as an adult.

On appeal, defendant asserted that his sentence violates the Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause of the federal constitution’s Eighth Amendment and article II, § 20 of the Colorado Constitution. In Graham v. Florida, ___ U.S. ___, 130 S.Ct. 2011 (2010),the U.S. Supreme Court held that juveniles may not be sentenced to life without parole (LWOP) for non-homicide crimes. Defendant argued that his sentence constitutes a de facto LWOP sentence. Defendant will be eligible for parole when he is 57 years old. Because defendant’s sentence provides a meaningful opportunity for release, however, it does not amount to LWOP.

Summary and full case available here.

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